Far Beyond The Stars, (And Too Close For Comfort)

One of the greatest pieces of television, of any show, era or genre, EVER, is the Star Trek; Deep Space 9 episode "Far Beyond The Stars". I just rewatched it for probably the 20th time. It transcends Trek. It transcends Science Fiction. It transcends Television. It is a brilliantly acted, written and produced piece of fiction, because of it's stark unflinching reality.

And it is incredibly uncomfortable to watch.

Of course that's as it should be. It very bluntly shows the real effects of racism in America. Moreso than any other tv show has ever succeeded in doing. Moreso even than a lot of movies that tackled it. It doesn't soften the blows, or handle the subject with kid gloves. Maybe because it's an episode of a syndicated genre show, it had more freedom than network or cable dramas. Maybe because it wasn't a topic they tackled regularly, they had the freedom to be as real and ugly and brutally honest as racism really is, where an NBC or an HBO show might feel a need to whitewash it a little to avoid making their white audiences uncomfortable.

But that's just it. A truly good story about the realities of racism and oppression and white privilege SHOULD make it's audience uncomfortable. It SHOULD make them squirm. It's not a flowery light-hearted subject. It's a brutal, ugly reality.

Spoilers ahead.

For those who've never watch Deep Space 9, the story is that Captain Sisko, the black captain of the eponymous space station Deep Space 9, is in the middle of a long and bloody war. He's just learned that a ship captained by a long-time friend of his was destroyed with no survivors in a border skirmish and is feeling hopeless, and actually considering resigning his commission and giving up the fight.

Something knocks him unconscious, and when he wakes up, he's Benny Russell, an underpaid science fiction writer in New York in the early 50's. His editor is a spineless conformist who is afraid of upsetting the status quo who prefers his readers blissfully believe Benny is a white writer, (and that the one woman writer on staff is a man), and constantly tells Benny "that's just the way it is".
Benny has some hallucinations about Sisko and Deep Space 9, and at the urging of a street preacher, begins writing about Sisko's adventures. His editor of course refuses to publish them because "a negro captain just isn't believable". When the other writers finally convince the editor to publish Benny's story because they all agree it's just too damned good to shelve, the publisher orders the entire print of that issue pulped and tells the editor to fire Benny, leading Benny to have a huge mental break-down as he cries out that you can pulp a story but you can't kill an idea, and that future of a black captain in space is real.

If that alone were all this story had to offer it would still be good television. But it goes so far beyond that.

Benny is treated like a criminal by beat cops solely because he's wearing a nice suit, which they deem suspicious because they assume, when he says he works in the office building where his magazine offices are, that he means he's the janitor. Willie Mays is in the story, and when asked why he as a rich successful baseball player hasn't moved downtown, he says the white players tolerate PLAYING with him, but living next to them? No thanks, he'd rather stay uptown where the other black folk idolize him than move downtown and just be a negro with money the white neighbours stare suspiciously at. Benny's young street thief friend scoffs at the very idea of Benny's black space captain, because the only reason he can imagine a black person going to space is if the astronauts "need a nigger to shine they shoes".

And it's all brutal and unflinching. They don't act like it's just white people being annoying like so many shows do when touching this issue. You can FEEL their anger, their pain. When the white cops harass Benny you can feel his dehumanization. And when eventually those same cops beat the ever-loving fuck out of Benny because he dared to question why they felt the need to shoot his young friend for trying to break into a car, you feel every single punch and kick, because they don't hold anything back. They don't pan away and let you just imagine the brutality. They make you watch it, and they make you FEEL it for exactly what it is. They make you feel every single blow even as they white cops visually flip between the cops and the characters the actors are normally playing. And it doesn't for one moment lessen the impact of the violence.

And therein lies the most uncomfortable truth about watching this episode.

It's set in the 1950's. But it could just as easily be set in 2015. Because every single slight that white people impose upon "the coloured folks" in this story? White people are STILL doing those exact same things. Cops STILL profile well-dressed black people as suspicious. Stories with strong black characters STILL get passed on in favour of yet another white protagonist. Most of the characters you see on tv are white. Minority characters are almost always the "token (insert minority here)" character. Go look at most popular tv shows, and I guarantee with extremely few exceptions, the cast is mostly white, with one female and one minority character.

And most infuriating of all, in 2015, young black people are still being routinely murdered by police for the flimsiest of excuses, or beaten to a pulp for daring to talk back. For being "uppity".
For not knowing "their place".

In 20-FUCKING-15.

And white people are STILL denying things are really as bad as they are.

And that's why "Far Beyond The Stars" is so uncomfortable to watch; because it's the motherfucking truth. It's fiction only insofar as that the characters in it are fictional people, but otherwise it's 150% cold hard brutal unflinching reality. It's brutal, raw, hones, and it pulls absolutely no punches. If you can watch it and not feel shame for the human race, or end up in tears, there's something very very wrong with you. It's the closest thing a tv show can be to perfect.

And that discomfort is why it's among, if not THE best of all television. And it should be required viewing. It should be shown in schools. It should be discussed endlessly. It should be a teaching tool. It should be treasured.

Sometimes humans NEED to take the blinders off and be made uncomfortable, because the reality of racism IS uncomfortable. And if those with all the power and privilege are comfortable what "the way things are", they'll never be motivated to help the rest of us get this crapsack racist world to the way things SHOULD be.

If you've never seen this episode, PM me for a link to watch it online. It is the most important piece of tv you will EVER watch in your life.


ENOUGH ALREADY White People! Stop Defending Racist Killer Cops!

Seriously, it NEVER fucking fails. Point out a factually valid proven statistic that proves racial bias and violent patterns by police, and there will ALWAYS be a white person there to insist you’re wrong, lying, or garbage for daring to ever even think of questioning the police.

And that’s what happened on Facebook, on Lizzy the Lezzy’s wall. I pointed out the decline in cops killed by suspects versus the staggering rise in cases of unarmed black people murdered by racist police. Factually accurate and easily provable.

And like clockwork, almost immediately I had one woman calling me trash for smearing cops with such lies, linking to a news story about all of one police officer shot by a suspect a few months ago as her Smoking Gun to prove I was lying, and another asking me to cite sources, practically DARING me to, because she was so absolutely sure my claims were bullshit I pulled out of my ass.

So cite my sources I did, because here are the fucking facts;

FACT; Thus far in 2015, all of 24 police officers were shot and killed by suspects.

FACT; But nearly FOUR-FUCKING-HUNDRED unarmed black folks have been shot and killed under suspicious circumstances by white police officers thus far in 2015. And that’s not ever counting other minorities.

FACT; of all those suspicious police deaths so far in 2015, only TWO officers are actually facing charges; one in Cincinnati, and one in South Carolina. One of those isn’t even a full real officer. He’s a university cop. Campus police. The rest are walking around scot-free, and at worst were suspended with pay, fired but never charged, or given desk duty until an internal police “investigation” magically cleared them of any wrongdoing.

FACT; I have black female friends who are mothers confirm to me that they have to raise their children to be hyper careful and leery around police, the same way some parents are forced to teach their daughters how to avoid rapists. Black children all over the USA aren’t getting to have normal happy childhoods because they live in a permanent state of very justified fear of white cops.
And most cops may not be murderers, but most cops DO turn a blind eye and keep their head in the sand. And the small tiny handful of cops brave enough to speak out against the corruption and racism in their co-workers end up fired and get death threats for their trouble.

So when I point out that there’s something seriously fucking wrong in America’s police departments, that is FACTUALLY PROVABLE, if you come at me with dishonest lying BlueLivesMatter propaganda that the proven facts utterly destroy? Expect a verbal beatdown. And then a block.


Today in "Oh FFS REALLY???!!!"

So people on Tumblr and Twitter are all in a tizzy complaining that Fox is Ablest because Ryan Reynolds' version of Deadpool won't be schizophrenic.

There are 3 problems with this that make me want to smack people for derailing far more important conversations with a misplaced whinefest that actually has NO ablesm to protest.

1) The ACTUAL announcement from Fox was simply that Deadpool would not be having conversations with his colour-coded word balloons as in the comics. Which makes sense, because it's an action movie, and making the audience do that much reading to keep up will just ruin the pacing of the film. They did NOT announce, as the angry folks claim "Oh yeah Deadpool will be crazy in our film but not THAT crazy haw haw haw". They ONLY said they will not use a particular comic book aesthetic that simply would not translate well to film.

2) It has not once, EVER in the comics been said that Deadpool actually suffers legitimately FROM Schizophrenia. He's been CALLED Schizo as an insult, (which frankly is WAY more Ablest than anything people are having fits about), but Marvel has NEVER ONCE claimed that Wade Wilson was Schizophrenic, nor has he in any comic claimed it of himself. His insanity has always been explained as a side effect of the excessively painful process that made him basically immortal.

3) It would be far more offensive if the comics HAD claimed he was Schizophrenic, because I KNOW people with schizophrenia and, once again kids, SCHIZOPHRENIA DOES NOT ACTUALLY WORK THAT WAY! While most, not all but most Schizophrenics do hear voices when unmedicated, but they are not clear, distinct recurring voices with a clear distinct personality like the voices portrayed by the word balloons in Deadpool's comic appearance. THAT would be Dissociative Identity Disorder. Schizophrenic voices are generally described as a cacophonic jumble of indistinct white noise, like a crowd having multiple conversations around you and you're unable to make out any one distinct conversation. It would be far more ablest and insensitive TO call Deadpool a Schizophrenic than to say he isn't.

There is SO much ACTUAL Ablesm in the media you Tumblr/Twitter folks could be calling out, let alone all the racism and transphobia and POC's being murdered by cops. PLEASE stop Grampa Simpsoning like this over an issue YOU MADE UP IN YOUR OWN HEADS.

The Deadpool movie is NOT being Ablest by supposedly not portraying Wade as Schizo. YOU are Ablest for insisting he MUST be.


Dear Trans Exclusionary Lesbians

Just so we're clear; if you're a cis woman who identifies as a lesbian and you refuse to even consider dating a trans woman solely because of her genital configuration? Solely because you'll only fuck other women if they have a vagina? Who will happily tell yourselves that trans man you're fucking is just a really butch dyke and not a man?

Congratulations! You are not actually a lesbian! You are a vagina fetishist!

"Lesbian" means "woman who is sexually attracted to/romantically interested in other women". Trans women are women. Trans men are men. If you claim to be a lesbian but you are willing to date/fuck trans men while absolutely refusing to do so with trans women, you are not a real lesbian. If you care more about a pussy being in your face than about the fact that you're dating a man who happens to have one, you are not a lesbian. If you were hot for that cute chick at the bar until she said she had a penis, YOU ARE NOT A FUCKING LESBIAN. You are a fetishist obsessed with vaginas and you have ZERO clue what lesbian love truly is. 

A lesbian loves women. Period. That is literally what being a lesbian mean.

You're not a lesbian. You're a hetero porn cliche.

Let's make a point here shall we?

Assuming you identify as a lesbian, look at these two pictures and tell me which one you're more likely to want to date, fuck, or maybe even marry someday.

  If you said the woman on the left without any hesitation? HUZZAH!!! You are, thus far, a healthy normal lesbian.


Let's ask again, this time let's ask that same question, except now we'll point out that, duh, both of these people are trans, and you have no way of knowing what you might find in their underwear. Or let's go a step further, and assume that both of these people are pre or non-op. The woman has a penis and the man has a vagina. She's still the same woman you were attracted to just a minute ago, and he's still the man that you didn't even give a second thought to before you knew what was in their pants.

Are you still more likely to date the woman? Do you care more about who a person is than how a tiny section of their flesh is arranged? Congratulations! You ARE a real lesbian!

But... if your answer changed? If you decided you'd rather fuck the guy with the beard than the beautiful woman? You're not really a lesbian. You care more about body parts than people. YOU ARE TRANSPHOBIC, no matter what you tell yourself to the contrary. No matter what intellectual hoops you jump through to justify your skewed shallow preference.

And you really need to ask yourself WHY your preference is so focused on body parts instead of the person who owns them.

But the bottom line is that if your dating criteria puts the contents of someone's underwear above all else on your list of criteria, you're not a lesbian, and you need to take a good long look in the mirror.


An Example of Ingrained Social Racism I Just Realized

I've noticed a subtle example of ingrained socialized racism while watching this past Sunday's episode of Jon Taffer's "Bar Rescue".

While I was cooking dinner, listening to the show in the background, I heard the narrator begin to introduce the chef Jon was bringing in to help the failing bar of the week. The moment the narrator described the chef's style of cooking as "soulful" I knew without even having to look at the screen the chef was black. Why?

Because on Bar Rescue whenever Jon brings in a chef who happens to be black, the narrator describes their cooking as soulful, as in "soul food". When the chef is white, the buzzword of choice is "elevated". Latino chefs always have food with a "zesty kick". And never ever does the narrator mix it up.

This to me shows a very mild and subtle example of ingrained racism. Assuming the Narrator is simply reading copy in front of him in the recording booth, whomever writes that copy writes it with some preconceived racist notions so subtle I doubt they even notice they're doing it. Certain descriptors that have over time somehow become tied to different races.

Is it necessarily inaccurate that soul food is most often cooked by black cooks, or that Latino cooking is traditionally more spicy? No. Those are the sorts of stereotypes that exist because they are often actually accurate. Where it truly slips into racism though, however unintended it may be, is that the only ethnicity that ever has their cooking described as "elevated" are the white chefs. THAT'S where the subconscious stench of culturally ingrained racism begins to seep in.

Because this kind of racism is so ingrained, so sewn in to the social consciousness, that it just seems perfectly normal to describe the white chefs as cooking the "elevated" dishes, and almost no one ever even notices. We all just kind of shrug it off. It rarely registers with most people, regardless of their race, that what they're hearing is kinda broken and problematic, because we've all been subtly conditioned to see this kind of thing as simply normal. And it's damned hard to unsee it. I've been watching Bar Rescue for all 6 seasons, and only JUST realized this.

And that's why racism ends up being so difficult to fight, to beat, to eradicate.

Anyone can see the problem when a neo-nazi shouts "ni**er" on a street corner. Those are the big blunt examples. We all know that's wrong. But we can't succeed in fighting the big loud examples if we can't get ourselves to see the subtle tiny ones. Because it's the subtle tiny ones we all just blindly accept that give the bigger ones the room to keep festering until they thrive.